Setting aside a Jharkhand High Court bail order, the Supreme Court recently held that love affair cannot be a ground to grant bail in POCSO cases.
The bench comprising Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Surya Kant set aside the order given by a single judge bench and said that there was a manifest error in the order of the High Court allowing the bail application.
“Both the grounds, namely that “there was a love affair” between the appellant and the second respondent as well as the alleged refusal to marry, are circumstances which will have no bearing on the grant of bail,” the bench observed.
The bench noted that the victim was 13 years old (a minor) when the alleged incident occurred. The accused allegedly took her to a hotel and had a sexual relationship with her under the pretext of marriage.
The complainant alleged that he later refused to marry her and sent some obscene videos to her father.
A POCSO special judge had rejected his bail application. However, the High Court granted him bail after a charge sheet was filed.
“It appears from the statement under Section 164 of Cr.P.C. as well as the averments made in the FIR that there was a love affair between the petitioner and the informant and the case appears to have been instituted only on the point of refusal of the petitioner to solemnize marriage with the informant,” the High Court had observed.
Opining that the reasoning was specious, the Supreme Court noted that considering both the gravity of the offence and the age of the prosecutrix, a ground for grant of bail had not been established.
“The order of the High Court granting bail has to be interfered with since the circumstances which prevailed with the High Court are extraneous in view of the age of the prosecutrix, having regard to the provisions,” the bench said.
The apex court has directed POCSO Special Judge to complete the trial within six months.